Earth Beat, 4 November 2011. As the gap between night and day gets shorter, we ask how 24-hour society affects our environment. From taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift, to globetrotting executives working through three time zones, we meet the people working round the clock to keep things running.
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More than 18 million containers pass through the Port of Rotterdam each year, bringing everything from televisions to toilet paper from all over the world. No wonder the work there never stops. Host Marnie Chesterton hits the coffee and gets up at 4am to take a dockside tour with manager Gerrit Orgers, who regularly works the graveyard shift.
How to cope with permanent jet lag
We speak with someone who lives and works in three locations: Hong Kong, New York and London. He's up at all hours, dealing with all three offices in their local time, no matter where he happens to be.
All-night shopping, eating, entertainment, round-the-clock trading, continuous manufacturing and the internet mean that we’re stretching our daytime hours well into the night, but is there a cost?
Leon Kreitzman is an expert on our 24-hour lifestyle and says no matter how hard we try, our bodies can’t switch day and night and neither they should.
Leon's book is called The 24 Hour Society.
Stories from the city that never sleeps
Power cuts cripple business in Kampala
We might all want to be able to buy online at 6am, but sometimes it’s not possible to work round the clock. The Ugandan capital Kampala regularly experiences unexpected power blackouts thanks to the process of ‘load shedding’ which happens every time energy companies miscalculate the demand for electricity.
Robert Okello owns a printing press, and tells Marnie how the rationing prevents 24-hour society from running smoothly.
We are natural procrastinators
Piers Steel has been studying our increasing rates of procrastination, and says that a 24-hour society might not necessarily mean that we’re more efficient or productive, even if suddenly we have 24 hours to do everything that needs to be done in our increasingly busy days.
Fighting to keep dark skies
24-hour society means we need 24-hour light – even, sometimes, in the dead of night.
But the pollution caused by this permanent glow is confusing animals, harming humans, and making it impossible to see the stars (photo below).
Tim Hunter has set up the International Dark Skies Association to try and combat this growing problem.
Living life in the slow lane
Some places don’t do late opening and that goes for most Dutch towns and villages.
The small fishing town of Urk resists it more than most - you’ll find 25 churches completely full on a Sunday morning.